Coaches of playoff-bound football teams spend a lot of time counting power points and figuring power ratings as the final week of the regular season approaches.
But there’s still something special about winning a district title. This week, a group of diverse Baton Rouge metro area teams have their eyes on that prize.
“There’s no doubt that power points are important,” Lutcher coach Tim Detillier said. “But when, I go to the store or to a mall I see the T-shirts and patches on letter jackets that say ‘District Champions,’ and that tells you it means plenty.”
Detillier’s squad is one of the teams involved in the story lines that will unfold in Class 5A-4A this week.
The Bulldogs (8-1, 5-0) travel to Plaquemine (6-3, 5-0) with the District 6-4A title on the line. In District 4-5A, there’s a chance for co-champions.
Denham Springs (6-3, 3-1) hosts Zachary (7-2, 3-1) with at least a share of the league title at stake. Central (5-4, 3-1) can also claim a share of the title with a road win over Live Oak (2-7, 0-4).
Perhaps the most compelling story is in District 5-5A. Catholic High started the season 0-5 and is listed well below the top 32 teams in terms of power rankings. But the Bears (3-6, 3-1) can claim a playoff berth if they upset second-ranked Dutchtown High (9-0, 4-0) this week. The game is set for Friday at Olympia Stadium.
“Every year you go in with the goals of winning a district title and getting into the playoffs,” Weiner said. “And we have that chance, which is really all you can ask for.
“Our guys understand what is at stake. I’ve told them our playoffs start this week. We have to win to get in.”
Under Louisiana High School Athletic Association rules, teams that tie for a district title are awarded one of the 32 spots on the playoff bracket, giving the Bears a chance to get into the playoffs.
“Playing for a district title in Week 10 is what it’s all about,” Dutchtown coach Benny Saia said.
“To me, it doesn’t matter what kind of season they’ve had; they’re still Catholic High, and we’ve told our kids that. We’ve got to be ready.”
The 4-5A scenario matches preseason favorites Zachary and Denham Springs against each other, something neither coach is unhappy about.
“We’ve both had ups and downs, and now here we are playing for a share of a district title,” Denham Springs coach Dru Nettles said. “We’re where we want to be, and I’m sure Zachary feels the same way.”
The Lutcher-Plaquemine scenario is simple: The winner is the 6-4A champion, and the loser is the runner-up. The teams have combined to win 13 straight games.
“We just got started looking at film, but there are a few things I can tell you about Plaquemine,” Detillier said. “They’re a big, talented team. And they’re young.
“I think they (Green Devils) will be good for the next few years. This is about this year and a district title. It’s what you want for a Week 10 game.”
Only one team, Parkview Baptist (6-3, 4-0), has wrapped up a title. The Eagles beat West Feliciana in their final District 6-3A game Friday and have an open date this week.
Top-ranked St. Charles Catholic (9-0, 4-0) leads 7-3A and faces E.D. White Catholic (4-5, 1-3). Should the Comets lose, Port Allen (8-1, 3-1) can clinch a share of the title with a win over Brusly (5-4, 2-2).
The Week 10 schedule also includes four Thursday games. Donaldsonville (4-5, 2-2) hosts St. James (0-9, 0-4) in 7-3A, while Woodlawn (3-6, 1-3) hosts McKinley (3-6, 1-3) in 5-5A.
St. John (6-3, 3-1) hosts
Ascension Christian (0-9, 0-4)
at Plaquemine High. Istrouma
(0-9), a District 6-4A team,
travels to Houma to take on Terrebonne for a nondistrict game.
Third-ranked University (9-0, 4-0) sits in the driver’s seat in District 7-2A going into Friday’s games. The Cubs host Redemptorist (4-5, 3-1), another team looking to spring a major upset. Fifth-ranked Episcopal (8-1, 3-1) hosts The Dunham School (4-5, 2-2) and could also be in the conversation about co-champions should a tie take place.
“Redemptorist will line up with athletes as good as any we’ve seen this year,” UHS coach Chad Mahaffey said. “The thing they’re low on is numbers.
“But they’ve improved steadily through the year and they’ve got something to play for. That’s motivation.”
No local team can wrap up sole possession of a district title with a win in Class 1A, but several are looking to shore up their playoff possibilities. Should No. 9 West St. John (7-2, 4-0) lose to East Iberville (6-3, 1-3), a tie is possible in 9-1A.
Southern Lab (7-2, 3-1) could also force a tie by beating Kentwood (7-2, 4-0). Christian Life (6-3, 3-1) could also factor in with a win over Archbishop Hannan.